When Harry Potter was first published I was exactly the target age for it. At the time I was always very proud of the fact that I was reading it before it was cool! I have a very vivid memory of sitting on the edge of my bed devouring my library copy of Chamber of Secrets. I’m fairly sure I was supposed to be doing something else – possibly sleeping – but I was too scared to stop reading.
After that I was hooked. Book one was soon received as a Christmas present but I was made to wait for book three to come out in paperback before I was allowed that one. By the time book four came around I was buying the hardbacks as soon as they were published. I even went to my local bookshop’s midnight opening for the final book and stayed up all night to read it.
I grew up with the characters and so the books have remained close to my heart – despite any shortcomings I might be able to see now. However, I do find that my emotional responses to them have changed. As a teenager The Order of the Phoenix was my least favourite book – partly because the ending broke my heart (I cried a lot) and partly because Harry was just so angry all the time. I found him incredibly annoying!
These days I have a lot more patience with Harry. I am currently listening to the audiobooks for the first time and having just finished book five I find that instead of being annoyed with Harry I am angry with all the adults – and especially Dumbledore – myself. Why not tell Harry why he needed to learn occlumency? If he’d known he might have tried harder and even if it didn’t work he would have been prepared for the consequences. As far as I can see the only reason not to tell him is to enable the plot to develop as it did.
Neither can I see any real reason not to tell him earlier why he needs to stay with the Dursleys every summer. Since eleven year old Harry knew Voldemort wanted to kill him wouldn’t it have been comforting to know that he was safe as long as he spent some of each year in Privet Drive? Plus, of course it would have made being there just a bit more bearable.
All that aside, these books were a big part of my childhood and they are hugely nostalgic for me now. I am sure I will visit them again many times in the future. Do you have any childhood favourites with which you have a different relationship now?